Another Afterlife

I wrote a short essay back in November, shortly after my bypass surgery following a heart attack in late October, that each time you survive a near-death experience – meaning something that, a century ago before the advent of modern medicine, you would not have survived – what follows is an afterlife, an extension of your old life but also a new life in the sense that you appreciate what you almost lost and now have a chance to do better.

So I spent nearly two full months in a couple hospitals following a second heart attack on April 20th, culminating in a heart and kidney transplant on May 26th, followed by another three weeks of recovering before returning home on June 16th. I’ll write another post or two detailing that experience, if perhaps not quite the length of what I wrote about the previous hospital stay.

I feel fine except for general fatigue (two or three naps per day) and weakness and now soreness in my legs. I lost some 20 pounds while lying in hospital beds all those weeks, mostly of muscle mass, especially in the legs. Once up, I can walk/shuffle around well enough, but it’s an arduous effort just to stand up from a sitting position. I can get up a fight of steps, but only by holding onto the hand rail with both hands, and moving up one step with both feet at a time. This will get better; it did last time.

I’ll gradually resume my various projects and chores: sfadb updates; support for; columns for Black Gate; and posts on this blog. And work on my book. Ironically, I probably got more done for my book while lying in the hospital than I had for a year or two being busy with other things. I conceived an outline of chapters, and an idea of how each chapter would be structured, and lots of little notes about content to go in each chapter. And I’ve set up a Word doc divided into chapters to consolidate those notes and to start writing actual prose.

After so many weeks away, I was curious how my three cats would react once I got home. They were all a bit shy at first, as if recognizing me but unable to place me—who is this person again? Potsticker, the male in the brother-sister pair we got over three years ago, is the most extraverted of the three, always the first to greet visitors to the house. So he was the first to warm back up to me, rubbing my leg and lying along side me on the bed, rolling over to be scratched on the head. Soybean, the female of the pair, is still reticent, wandering around the house looking at me but still, not yet, taking her favorite place on my lap. –Well, she did for a while this afternoon.

Then Huxley, and youngest at under 2 years, who’d bonded to me closer than the other two because we got him at 8 weeks and I spent all day every day with him, was the most skittish when I returned home the other day. He hid for a while, then came out, sitting at the bottom of the stairs looking up at me, meowing. It took him a couple days of pacing warily across whatever room I was in before he calmed down, first relaxing on the floor, then sniffing my hand, and so on. He’s jumped up on my lap twice, but only for 3 seconds at a time.

I’m sure they’ll all calm down and we’ll be back to normal in another week or so.

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